This aircraft carrier is a huge set which has almost 3500 bricks, including one giant ship, 26 minifigures, 12 fighter jets, one helicopter, two boats, loads of missiles and some guns. Notice that this is really old item and not the reference of what BanBao is today.
This set belongs to older BanBao line-up and it’s not in production anymore. The box has the legolike BanBao logo and legolike minifigures which seem to be replaced by BanBao originals “ToBees”-figures in newer BanBao line-up. These older sets are still seen in several webshops and also on eBay. Price range is from $120 to over $250 so it’s wise to compare different sellers. Sometimes I’ve seen such a set even under $50 on eBay.
This is the very first unoriginal brick set I’ve ever built. So please feel free to correct if you see me say or do something funny ;-)
The bags may have had some numbering system in them, but I never figured it out. So I just emptied all the bags and sorted the parts in different piles.
I was able to build 25 minifigures. Only a flying helmet without a visor was all what was left of the 26th minifigure. Some of the heads were badly printed, some arms are so loose they fell off all the time. Quality of the fig parts varied from pretty good to very bad. But compared to the price of the set it, this is just a decent bunch of minifigures.
The building instructions followed a different procedure than original sets so if you’re familiar with the typical Lego building order, you might find these a bit strange. They were almost as clear but sometimes I had to go back few pages to check out what had gone wrong. Also from time to time it felt like the guy who made the instructions never built the set himself as some parts should have almost floated in the air by the instructions. Anyway the instructions took me through the building process just fine.
The BanBao bricks and plates do not have as smooth finish as original bricks. The edges are sharper and in some parts there are leftovers from the casting. This combined with the extra pushing power needed because of the higher studs it means the build is not easy for your fingertips! If I could have found some thin gloves I definitely would have pulled then on my hands in some stage of the project.
There were some things I had to check from the box images as they were not on the instructions and also some bricks were left over because there was no instructions to build something out of them. For example there were four wheels and a jeep front sticker but these are not mentioned in the instructions.
The cheap set means also less engineering and planning at the factory. There were several places that could have easily been made stronger and smarter just by laying bricks differently. This has also effect on the strenght of the ship when it’s ready and you want to carry it around the house.
Some of these poor designs were easy to fix just by placing the bricks in another better way, but if the fix required different bricks it was harder to pull through as there were no extra bricks in the set.
Fortunately I had ordered also a 500 bricks BanBao brick box and I was able to use dark grey bricks from that set to make the ship stronger.
The front of the ship was supported poorly to the rest of the body and when I lifted the ship it almost broke apart. The previous fix was one of the alternations to fix this but I used also some original Lego plates to make the front clip stronger. I changed the placement of the BanBao bricks and filled a gap with Legos as there was no extra BanBao plates available in the set or in my another BanBao box.
The real annoying part was building up the aircraft carriers tower as the instructions in different pages varied from each other. Also the mast (or pylon) layouts were difficult to push in place at the top of bending plates. The whole tower crashed few times during the building.
Also one mishap was the attachment of the tower as there was nothing to hold it in place after it was ready. I added some yellow 2×2 brick from my BanBao box to keep the tower in place.
Yet another poorly designed feature was the fighter jet lift behind the tower. The structure was designed too weak and lifting or lowering the lift broke the hull structure almost every time. I had to secure the lift to the top position with some 2×2 plates I took from the fighter jet noses. Anyway the lift feature was quite worthless as it moved only a short trip and there was no hole big enough to load the planes under the flight deck.
At this point I must remind that these weak points of the structure are because of the design and brick placement. The bricks themselves are strong and fit to each other nicely. If the design would have given a bit more thinking and “brick engineering”, these problems could have been solved.
The set contained almost all bricks needed. There were some minor parts missing (and the one missing minifigure mentioned earlier) but none of the key parts were missing.
The aircraft carrier is good for minifigure playing. It’s somewhat smaller in scale but aircraft carriers are so huge that a “real” size in minifigure scale would fill anyones living room. The tower part is a bit too big scale compared to the overall hull size.
The twelve (12) fighter jets are smaller scale. I did alter the design by removing one 1×2 plate which I needed for the hull fixes. The helicopter looked so funny I did not build it at all. There was also parts for somekind of wagon or a jeep but no instructions for it.
There are so many fighter jets included in the set that not all of them fit onboard the flight deck. The aircraft carrier is huge in size and there is plenty of room under the flight deck and inside the tower but these are fixed and there’s no easy way to storage stuff or play with minifigures inside the ship. In my opinion it should have more opening parts to add some playability and storage all the weapons and gear under the deck.
If I would have more grey BanBao bricks and plates available I would definitely make some changes to the design. For now this must do because I don’t have enough BanBao parts needed to make this ship better.
The overall design of the ship is quite nice looking and if someone likes to do this with genuine Lego bricks I think it is possible with some minor changes – I guess the parts needed for this kind of project would make up to $700-$900 from Bricklink or Pick-a-Brick shop. The Lego version would be slightly lower as the bricks are lower.
For serious playing I would change the crew and have genuine Lego minifigures on board. For example there is just perfect sailor minifig available in the collectable sets. Also few mechanics and medical staff would be nice addition.
If I have inspiration, it would be neat to rebuild this to add playability, for example opening walls to the tower, a working airplane lift, ability to open up the flight deck… and there is plenty of room inside the hull for even a Power Functions tricks… only imagination and my lack of BanBao bricks is the limit ;-)
In a nutshell I have to say this is not as good quality as the original Lego sets are but on the other hand it does not cost nearly as much as the genuine stuff would cost. For the $150 you get lots of bricks and lots of building so in general it’s well worth the money. There were some bad parts like minifigures and something was missing but afterall they were minor issues.
If you want quality bricks compatible with your original bricks this might not be your piece of cake – but if you want a huge aircraft carrier in a bargain price this is just the one you are looking for!